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Top 6 tips to #watchyourback

As we get older, a certain amount of niggling aches and pains are pretty much par for the course. Our knees, our elbows, our necks and, above all, our backs, can all be a source of discomfort.

There’s a reason why back pain is such a common part of the aging process: as we get older, the discs between our vertebrae begin to wear away and shrink, causing our bones to rub against each other. This friction can be the cause of a considerable amount of pain.

But while a certain amount of pain is inevitable, there are things you can do to keep your back in better shape and help hold back the years.

Read on for our roundup of six top tips to help you #watchyourback…

  1. Keep active

No one’s suggesting you sign up for a marathon (unless you want to, that is!) but it’s really important to do some form of exercise every week if you want to keep your back in decent shape.

The NHS recommends that walking, swimming and cycling are all excellent, low-impact forms of exercise that can help to strengthen your back.

It’s also put together a useful roundup of stretches you can do to alleviate back pain should it arise.

And it’s not just structured exercise you should think about factoring into your day. Sitting for long periods of time – all too common, especially for those with office-based jobs – is never good news for your back. Make sure you remember to get up every so often: experts recommend one to two minutes of moving around for every 30 minutes spent sitting.

  1. Check your posture

It may sound obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people are walking around with poor posture.

Making sure you’re walking and sitting correctly can do wonders for your back. If you spend large amounts of time sitting at a desk, make sure you sit upright, with your shoulders relaxed and your back supported against the chair.

The NHS cautions that sitting correctly may not feel comfortable at first because most people’s muscles have generally not been conditioned to support them in the correct position.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight

We promise we’re not nagging! But being a healthy weight – or losing weight if you’re overweight – really can have a positive impact on your back. Being overweight can increase your chances of developing back pain, so do try to eat healthily and exercise regularly if you can.

Need some help making healthier food choices? The NHS has a great resource available here.

  1. Check your sleeping position

If you sleep on your back, try placing a pillow underneath your feet – elevating them is really good for your spine. Or if you sleep on your side, put a pillow between your knees to help your muscles relax.

If you prefer to sleep on your stomach, the bad news is it’s not particularly good for your back. However, putting a pillow under your lower abdomen and pelvis can help to prevent back strain.

  1. Watch how you lift things!

No matter your age, the way you lift things can have a huge impact on your back health. Before you even start, you should consider how long you intend to hold the item, where you’re going to place it and – crucially – whether it’s too difficult to manage easily. Don’t be a hero: if you’re in any doubt at all about whether it’s safe for you to lift something, don’t risk it! Consider using a trolley or similar aid, or ask someone else to help if possible.

Bupa has put together a handy list of tips to make sure that whatever you lift, you’re lifting safely.

  1. Try some hot / cold therapy

For chronic pain, the Arthritis Foundation recommends applying heat to relieve achy muscles, by soaking in warm water or using a heated compress.

Heat causes blood vessels to get bigger, meaning more oxygen, blood and nutrients can be delivered to tissues. Better circulation means stiff muscles and joints can better relax.

If your pain’s acute however, you’re better off applying cold treatments for a few days: cold has the opposite effect of heat, reducing blood flow and inflammation.

If all else fails…

Sometimes you just can’t help getting aches and pains, which is why we created Pernaton Gel. Specially formulated to aid connective tissue and joint care, simply massage some into the affected area for an instant, cooling effect.